Mary Frances Flowers, a Raleigh, NC-based jewelry designer, describes her FLORA Collection as being "inspired by the serenity, community, and warmth of the greenery-filled spaces in our lives." I had the opportunity to style a few pieces from the collection and instantly fell in love with the unique handmade jewelry and its modern feminine design.
Noteworthy: Tell us a little about your background. How did you get started making jewelry?
Mary Frances: I've always enjoyed making things with my hands and seeing a final product appear out of thin air. I recall fashioning paper gift bags into "handbags" and selling them to friends in lower and middle school (I literally think I just glued glitter and ribbons to the bags and told people they were "handbags"). And then, later in college, I would glue gold charms onto posts and call them earrings. It was always an experiment where I didn't really have formal training, I just went for it and figured it out as I went along. But, my senior year of college, I interned for Jane Pope Jewelry, and she really gave me the tools and skills I needed to turn the "experiments" into viable, sustainable jewelry. She took a chance on my lack of knowledge, gave me an excellent education in basic jewelry making, and encouraged me to gain further skills at a trade school in NYC, which I attended the year after I graduated from Wofford College. Since then, this whole business side of things has all been back to an experiment where everyday is a new challenge with a new problem to solve, and I'm still kind of making it up as I go along. I'm very fortunate to have some amazing mentors and friends that are more knowledgable in the business aspect to guide me.
Noteworthy: What inspired the FLORA collection?
Mary Frances: One of my absolute favorite pastimes is sitting around with friends or family in someone's cozy living room, dogs playing, glass of wine in hand, just chatting about whatever comes to mind. I started thinking about what made these spaces I loved so much into what they are, and, besides the people in those rooms, I realized that there's something very calming and welcoming about a room covered in fiddle leaf figs, overflowing ferns, and the smell of rosemary cooking over roasted chicken in the oven. The image and memory of those greenery-filled living rooms has this incredible ability to transport me back into those spaces in my mind so that no matter how far away I am from close friends or family, I always feel at home.
The pieces in this collection give me a warm and fuzzy feeling reminiscent of those times. A dear friend of mine gifted me a book about flowers and learning to arrange your own florals a few years ago, and one snowy December day, I started browsing through it, searching for that feeling again, and the pieces started flowing out of my pencil into my sketchbook. Of course, it took some editing after that first sketch session, but I don't think I've ever "worked" less on a collection in terms of initial inspiration. Once the sketching is complete, that's when the real work begins. I wanted to pay homage to my Southern roots through this collection (my momma always has at least 3-4 ferns hanging on our back porch at all times and her backyard is absolutely covered in rosemary), but also create pieces that were modern, fresh, and brought me back to that favorite place. I, admittedly, have a black thumb, so the idea that I could recreate these gorgeous blooms and greenery into jewelry that lasts longer than a few weeks was a no-brainer to me. The shape of a monstera leaf, the outline of flower buds, it reminds me of simpler times - times surrounded by love and grace and a child-like wander that I hope all of my jewelry possesses.
Noteworthy: As an artist, how do you stay fresh creatively speaking?
Mary Frances: To be totally honest, it's a challenge. This is the first full collection I've released in over a year. Last summer, I released a few "filler" pieces that helped to round out some of my existing series (Honeycomb Hoops and Ring for the Honeycomb Series, Scallop Hoops for the Lace Series, Morse Code Ear Climbers for the Custom Morse Code Series, etc). They've all been extremely well-received and some of my favorites that I wear daily, but it wasn't an entire collection.
When I'm really feeling drained and need a creative boost, I get away from the computer. I've found that staring at my computer, even if I'm on Pinterest or Instagram searching for inspiration that the opposite effect occurs. I get a "comparison hangover" (as Kristen Bell calls it) from looking at all the other amazing things the people I follow are doing. So, I close my computer and roam the aisles of an antique shop or go on a walk around the neighborhood. I try my best to get out of my head because when I'm not thinking about it, that's when the ideas come. It makes me absolutely crazy because I've found that my best ideas come when I'm driving. Most roadtrips I have to pull over a handful of times just to sketch things out or write ideas down. And then, when I'm lucky and have the means to travel, I find tons of inspiration being in different parts of the country or the world. Just getting out of my everyday routine does wonders for my creativity. My fiance and I are going to Portugal for our honeymoon in September, and I'm so excited to see what pieces will be born out of that trip.
Noteworthy: Who are your style icons?
Mary Frances: My personal style is very simple, uncomplicated, and generally unfanciful. I've said before that I sometimes feel contradictory because my jewelry is so lovely and often worn for fun, fancy occasions, but that my every day is very far from that - the day in and day out of running a small business just isn't as glamorous as social media makes it out to be. So, my every day uniform is usually jeans and a white tee or button down. I'm a big fan of wearing what feels good to you and not following trends just because all your friends are (though I did just get my first jumpsuit, and I think I'm hooked on this trend...).
With all that said, Jennifer Aniston's simple style is one I love to follow, and Natalie Portman is just generally a huge girl crush for me. I also admire Julia Engel for her unabashed femininity and classic, Hepburn-esque style.
Noteworthy: Where can we shop your jewelry?
Mary Frances: Online at maryfrancesflowers.com and select retailers across the US. Check out our website for a retailer near you.
Want to own your own Mary Frances Flowers piece!? Head over to @noteworthy_mag on Instagram for a chance to win a $150 gift card.
Mary Frances Flowers is a native of Columbus, Georgia and a Raleigh, North Carolina resident. Mary often daydreams of Santorini, Greece and is inspired by uniquely textured objects found in nature and the juxtaposition of rustic old with modern new. She believes beauty is found in the imperfections, is a fan of neutrals and effortless dressing, a constant mess maker, and committed to being a life-long learner. Mary could survive on thin crust pizza, tacos, and stout beer and is obsessed with her bernedoodle puppy Porter. She is a lover of puzzles and yard games and must have fresh flowers - always and always. Learn more and shop at maryfrancesflowers.com and @maryfrancesflowers on Instagram.